It was a narrow, deep and impersonal administrative building… and somehow, José María de Churtichaga turned it into a celebration of Spanish handicraft – and, in turn, one the most inspiring co-working spaces of the year.

The architect turned the limitations of the existing space and a small budget into Dogma-like challenges: it became an exaltation of local materials and the high quality that allowed for many items to be recycled and given a new life within these walls.

Case in point: the gresite tiles that cover the walls are actually made with recycled bottles at a factory in Santander. Some leftover plastic hoses by way of Barcelona now grace the ceilings of the gathering room. And then, the ceilings of the auditorium, the exterior hallway and the upper-floor working space are breathtakingly lined with 3,000 kilograms of esparto rope that came from a father-and-son operation in Jaén, in southern Spain. ‘It’s the first time this country has seen so much esparto, usually employed for basket weaving, used for an architectural purpose,’ said De Churtichaga.

Why was this aspect so important to him? ‘I have always been interested in letting users know that a space was built by human hands,’ he explained.
To our jury members, who were impressed with the integration of the artisanal and recycled elements, it was also a message of architectural restraint and responsibility. ‘When you can work with a low budget and the existing conditions, and make it work… that makes people think,’ concluded WeWork’s Andy Heath, one of our jury members.

This is a preview of Frame 128, our upcoming May/June print issue, which will feature detailed insights from the judging sessions at the 2019 Frame Awards.